Have You Been Diagnosed with Macular Degeneration?

Have You Been Diagnosed with Macular Degeneration?

Posted under Eye Conditions

Have you been diagnosed with macular degeneration, Stargardt’s Disease, diabetic retinopathy, a macular hole or another type of retinal condition? Did you know that there are medical doctors, ophthalmologists, who specialize in the treatment of retinal diseases and conditions?

What is the difference between an optometrist, an ophthalmologist and a retina doctor?

An optometrist has a Doctor of Optometry degree that is received after getting an undergraduate college degree and attending 4 years of an accredited optometry school. All states require optometrists to be licensed. These eye doctors perform general eye examinations and tests, diagnose eye conditions, and prescribe eyeglasses. In some states they can prescribe medication.

A general ophthalmologist provides eye exams, diagnoses eye problems, performs eye surgeries, and prescribes medications for a variety of eye conditions. This type of eye specialist is a medical doctor that has gone through 4 years of medical school with an additional three years of an ophthalmology residency. Just like any other medical doctor, they must pass a licensing exam.

A retina doctor has had the above training, so he is an M.D., but has had additional training in retinal diseases and conditions that affect the vitreous humor. The additional training is called a Retina Fellowship. It is a very specialized one to two year program where doctors learn about and treat only patients with eye conditions that affect the retina. During this specialized training they learn how to perform intraocular injections, retinal eye surgeries, and laser treatments.

When Should A Patient See A Retina Doctor?

Often if an ophthalmologist suspects any kind of retinal problem, he/she will refer a patient to a retinal specialist. For example my husband was examined by a general ophthalmologist for a sudden increase in flashes and floaters. He was diagnosed with a post-vitreous detachment. The vitreous is the substance that fills the eye giving it its volume and shape.

The eye doctor was not sure, but suspected that he might have developed a very small retinal tear and referred him to a retina specialist. He was seen the next day by a retina doctor, who was able to reassure us that there was no retinal tear and no further treatment was needed.

Sometimes these eye specialists are called retina-vitreous specialists because they also treat conditions that affect the vitreous, performing surgeries like a vitrectomy. If you have been diagnosed with any eye condition that affects the retina, such as macular degeneration or diabetic retinopathy ask your ophthalmologist about a referral to a retina doctor.

To get help finding a retina doctor go to:

How to Find A Retina Doctor

Leslie Degner, RN, BSN

Better Health for Better Vision